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A Literary Schedule for African-American History Month

If you came by our exhibit booth on Saturday at the annual African-American Cultural Celebration in Raleigh, thanks so much for saying hello! We made a ton of new friends, connected with old friends, and felt honored to sponsor the “CELEBRATE Literature and the Spoken Word” gallery.

It was a great way to kick-off the month of February, which of course is African-American History Month. If you missed us in Raleigh, don’t sweat it: bookshops and other literary venues around the state will offer no shortage of opportunities to celebrate, contemplate, and remember.

On Wednesday, February 5, at 6:00 pm, at Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe in Asheville, editors Dionne Ford and Jill Strauss will discuss the anthology Slavery’s Descendants: Shared Legacies of Race and Reconciliation. This collection helps us confront the “legacy of slavery to reclaim a more complete picture of U.S. history, one cousin at a time.”

The Burwell School Historic Site  in Hillsborough offers programs throughout the month, including the upcoming event, “Discover the Lost World of Durham’s Hayti” on Saturday, February 9, at 2:00 pm, at Eagle Lodge #19. Andre D. Vann, a superb storyteller and co-author of Durham’s Hayti (pronounced HAY-TIE), will share a treasure of early photos of Hayti, and bring to life its vibrant culture.

Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh will host author Jerry Mitchell reading from and discussing his new book, Race Against Time: A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights Era. On June 21, 1964, more than twenty Klansmen murdered three civil rights workers. The killings, in what would become known as the “Mississippi Burning” case, were among the most brazen acts of violence during the civil rights movement. And even though the killers’ identities, including the sheriff’s deputy, were an open secret, no one was charged with murder in the months and years that followed. This event happens Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 pm.

The monthly Poetry Series sponsored by Jacar Press continues on Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 pm at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham with multi-genre writer and filmmaker L. Lamar Wilson and Tsitsi Jaji, an associate professor of English at Duke with expertise in African and African American literary and cultural studies, with special interests in music, poetry, and black feminisms.

On Monday, February 17, at 7:00 pm, Karla Slocum presents Black Towns, Black Futures: The Enduring Allure of a Black Place in the American West, an exploration of rural Black America, at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.

Pomegranate Books in Wilmington is happy to present Willie Earl Vereen, who will sign copies and talk about his autobiography Wilmington Ten Willie. Vereen is a member of a group of nine black men and one white woman who were known internationally during the 1970s as “The Wilmington Ten.” They were accused and arrested in 1972 for being involved in the burning of Mike’s Grocery during a week of violence in 1971 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

On Sunday, February 23, at 6:30 pm, NCWN Membership Coordinator Deonna Kelli Sayed, in collaboration with PEN America, will host “Literary Frivolity” at The Pinhook in Durham. Literary Frivolity launches 2020 in celebration of the North Carolina literary community, readers, and PEN America members and supporters. Come toast the new year with musical guest Quilla, a photo booth, and a curated story slam featuring personalities from the North Carolina writing and arts community.

Pure Life Theatre in Raleigh will host “Black History Month Read-In” on Saturday, February 29, 1:00-4:00 pm. This is a free event for the public.

Most public library systems will host free programs, including author events, films, storytelling, and fun and educational activities for children and teens, in celebration of African-American History Month. Check your local library for details.

These literary events, of course, are only the tip of the iceberg: there are countless festivals and celebrations happening all over the state, all month long.

What events are you looking forward to?